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Capitalism and Freedom

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  5,224 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Selected by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the "hundred most influential books since the war"

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves a
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Paperback, 40th Anniversary , 208 pages
Published November 15th 2002 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1962)
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Stephen
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Live and (hopefully) Learn...Before reading this book, I thought I was a fairly strong proponent of both free markets and limited government. TURNS OUT...I WAS WRONG!! Uncle Milt believed down to his very core in the rightness of free markets and after reading his passionate treatise on the benefits of same, I find I am not quite as far along the boulevard of laissez faire as I originally thought.

Despite being under 250 pages, this is a dense, meaty work designed to summarize the arguments in
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Trevor
This book is an interesting case of modern day sophistry – where the worse argument is made to appear the better. If one needed proof that much of modern economics is an exercise in ideology and self-interested appeals on behalf of the obscenely wealthy then this book provides ample evidence.

The French Revolution was fought under a flag of three colours and for three causes, Liberté, égalité, fraternité – Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Friedman is only interested in what he refers to as fre
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Andrea
Friedman has constructed an airtight bubble of neoliberal thought where freedom is the greatest value, and everything makes sense and fits together rationally only because it has no connection whatsoever to any kind of historical context, much less the current social and political realities of our time. None. Period. It is as though neither history nor reality as it is experienced by the poor exist, an astonishing tour de force to explain why those with extreme wealth should feel happy and conte ...more
Riku Sayuj

Friedman is definitely one of the most eloquent economists ever to have ventured into public discourse and also one of the most influential. And his arguments are powerful and almost impossible to argue against without stripping oneself of intellectual integrity. No doubts about that. But the imaginary debating partner cannot help but wonder if staking a claim to the moral high ground in an argument is not exactly the most liberal way of conducting one. Friedman puts a lot of stock into how true
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Hadrian
Milton Friedman died in 2006, and his teachings live on. The economist as demagogue, preaching all will be subordinate to the Market, all-powerful, all-knowing. It giveth and taketh away.

I admit freely for the purposes of bias that I lean to the left. But I recognize that the market is a powerful force for innovation, for growth and change. I am willing to recognize that at times, the market can be too constrictive, and that there are times where we must carefully examine the situation and deter
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Suman
May 07, 2012 Suman added it
Reading this book is like looking at a mirror into your own beliefs: how you react to Milton Friedman's philosophy tells you more about yourself than about the validity of the system. Fault lies totally with MF, who does not offer enough evidence to support his worldview, which is to limit government and expand free market in order to maximize 19th-century liberalism (where everyone is free such that one person's freedom doesn't impinge upon another's.) The lack of concrete evidence completely d ...more
Josh Meares
Friedman is the essence of the Chicago school of conservative/libertarian economics, and some say his is the driving idea behind Reagan's supply side economics.

Whatever you think about Reagan, Friedman is man of no small insight, both into economics and into politics. Some of the rationales for his economic policies sound like they came straight out of the political discussions of The Federalist Papers. Friedman, like Hamilton and Madison before him, realized that any power given to the governme
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John Spillane
Audiobook (7 hours) this for yourself before even considering what I think is the atrocious (half read) Atlas Shrugged or condemning Milton and the Chicago school. Most Republicans are only cafeteria Friedmanists at best, which is a truly horrible mix. I'd like to think that I've mentally progressed since I first read most of this formative work for a class sophomore year in college so it was nice to find that it held up so well. That class was taught by my fav professor who would have then and ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 03, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: socialists
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
I read this after Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose as a text ancillary to those assigned for Dave Schweickart's course entitled "Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy" and found it less offensive and more thought provoking than that later text.

Personally, I share Friedman's libertarianism in the sense of favoring the freedom of everyone to do as they please so long as their so doing does not restrict the freedom of others. This is a political, not an ethical, claim amounting to the belief th
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Igor
If you're looking for a dry and cerebral argument for why markets tend to be a social good, and in most case the option which gives choice, encourages enterprise, is the preferable one -- then this book, though dated, is still relevant and worth taking a look into. Someone who hasn't studied economics at all probably should seek different primers before delving deep into Friedman's zany free market world.

That being said, Friedman delivers a solid utilitarian argument for limited government and f
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Eamon
An important book to read for any student of economics - this is the basis of most American economic policy - but it's WRONG and I think Adam Smith would roll in his grave to hear how people like Friedman are using his theories to make their friends richer while the masses struggle.
Bhaskar Sunkara
To be honest, I'm reading selections from this because I have to for class, but I've actually read Friedman before and I don't have the same sort of vitriol that the Naomi Klein-left has for the man. He saw stagflation coming and the problems with the Peronist state-developmentalist model when welfare capitalism and import-substitution were in vogue. The flaws in his thought are obvious and I feel no need to delve into them here, but in short... I do love how classical economics stops at the poi ...more
CB
Friedman is a good marketer. It's pretty clear why people without a deep logical background, or analytic training, would believe this book has something to say about freedom. Friedman slyly uses the terms free, freedom, and free enterprise, in every three sentences. Eventually the weary subconscious relents, and accepts that the man must be talking substantively about issues of freedom, why else is the word so omnipresent!? Of course he's not really. For Friedman, freedom is negative liberty, th ...more
Clinton
Capitalism and Freedom examines the ultimate pursuit of freedom and liberty through the absence of government interference in the market and politics. Although government is warranted in the market yet limited, the market will always prevail in the most efficient use of resources. In a free society, there is a fine line between economic and political freedom.
The role of government should be only limited to law and order, enforcing property rights, and maintaining the monetary system. Friedman is
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Carlos
Friedman presents a simple, indeed often simplistic, argument in favor of an economic system characterized by the nearly unfettered operation of the free market coupled with a minimalist state apparatus. Though the book represented a radical position at the time it was written, many of Friedman's positions seem uncontroversial and common sensical today. It is a testament to Friedman's influence that this is so. In the forty or so years since Capitalism and Freedom first appeared, Friedman's thou ...more
Daniel
Jun 09, 2007 Daniel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: masochists.
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book as part of a class on Political Thought. I had food poisoning at the time that this book was assigned, but I would have been puking even if I hadn't had those undercooked pancakes that day. This book is so full of ruling class whitewash that it is truly difficult to read.

The text, essentialized, was as follows: Capitalism offers rich people choices. These choices can be redefined as freedom. Therefore Capitalism offers freedom.

Left out is what to do if you don't have the luxury
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Christopher
The best way to describe Milton Friedman's manifesto is that while it has a laudable goal, the spreading of economic freedom to all, the means by which he would achieve them would ultimately do the opposite and leave people in continual poverty. His first chapter on how important economic freedom is is very good, but all of his arguments employ either strongman arguments that can't be reasonably argued against or straw man arguments that are too easy to knock down. Not only that, but his chapter ...more
John
A man with an enomorous intellect and education, yet little regard for human beings. He had a vision of a lasseiz faire society that he was only able to see attempted in places like Chile, Argentina etc. Probably the most influential economist save Smith or Keynes. In my opinion a very unfortunate fact.
David Robins
Political freedom and economic freedom go hand in hand; classical liberal (libertarian) discussion of the proper role of government.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 09, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Milton Friedman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist associated with the "Chicago School" of free-market theorists. But it's not so simple to just peg Friedman as this man of the right. For one, he refuses to call himself a conservative. He points out that classically, it was defenders of the market that called themselves liberals--that the root word of liberal is "free" and it's hardly appropriate for a defender of dynamism over the status quo to call himself conservative. He and his wife Rose we ...more
Brian
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There are enough holes in capitalism to drive a fleet of trucks through. All hopefully hauling goods that are wanted by consumers with no tariff’s or other impediments and delivered by the one true God, free trade capitalism.

Friedman does make some good points about big government being bad that are valid I am totally on board with him on eliminating farm subsidies and changing our tax policy. O
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Clif
The GOP bible, at least until they got sidetracked by those holding the original Bible, this book is a compendium of all the things that government should NOT be involved with and for the simple reason that they restrict individual freedom. Friedman's plea is to let people choose as responsible adults - to have self-appointed protectors in government do what they think is best is to treat the populace as a herd of helpless and ignorant wards of the state.

Friedman speaks with calm logic as he tak
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Bojan Tunguz
The link between economic and political freedoms has been supported for a long time, and Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" is one of the more important texts in that intellectual tradition. The central thesis of this book is that the private ownership and enterprise, rather than the government controlled services, is the true guarantor of personal freedoms. Friedman acknowledges that there are indeed certain activities that a government has a legitimate role in (like the arbitration and ...more
Bank
Mr Friedman gave the lectures which comprise this book in 1956 . The USA was still on the gold standard , the Cold War was at maximum intensity , Medicare was nonexistent , the Civl Rights Act had not been passed , and we still had an active draft for the military . Now , Mr Friedman's premise was that individual political freedom was inextricably tied to individual economic freedom ( the freedom to own and operate businesses without government interference as long as it was consistent with publ ...more
Albert
If you have a chance to read only one book this summer, just one book - this is it!

The introduction and classical liberal approach by Milton Friedman in relations between economic freedom and individual freedom has been a truly enlightening experience for me. At one point I received answers about things I have been thinking about for years, furthermore suddenly many issues regarding government legislations and policies, the effects of these and many others made much more sense than ever before.
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Thadd
A depressing, untrue book. In it, the author makes a great many claims about the free market. In the 19th century, before laws were passed, workers labored seven days a week. As a result, many died in their forties.

Herbert Hoover, a man who didn't think much about what government could do to help ordinary people, didn't enact Social security or bank regulation. Today, because of the FDIC, legislation passed by FDR's administration, your money is protected if there is a run on the bank.

Without g
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matt
Mar 22, 2007 matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, particularly artists
Friedman is one creative cat. Regardless of whether or not you agree with classical liberalism, there is no doubt that Friedman is the Picasso of economics.

He is a dreamer and a problem solver, the kind of human being who helps to lead us through the murk of our time and into a better future.

So don't pay too much attention to your prejudices about the political world view that you may think Friedman represents. Chances are that regardless of your politics you will come away from this book with
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John
This book immediately became one of my favorites. The ability of the author to break down issues and address them was extremely insightful. While he makes many excellent arguments regarding markets and economics, I believe the most important contribution was his discussion of the importance of freely operating private markets to preserve liberty. Even if you don't agree with his perspective, his arguments are some of the best out there for classical liberalism and defeating them would be an exce ...more
Nathaniel
Excellent summary of the economic libertarian stance, with general arguments on capitalism, democracy, and the role of government in society, and then more intricate arguments on the topics of social security, unions, state licensing of professions (such as medicine, etc.), public education, anti-discrimination laws, international trade, and more. Freedom of the individual to do as he pleases without government intervention is the recurring theme of the book, as is to be expected from Friedman, ...more
Nikhil Pyati
The classic 20th Century argument for the application of market mechanisms to a wide range of problems, accessible to all. Friedman is bold in his willingness to follow his logic to its conclusions in the face of hard-dying beliefs, and he is far more humane than his leftist detractors claim. If I don't agree with him on many points, it is because I don't share his foundational assumptions; the reason that he employs is exemplary. The book is a testament to the rewards of a coherent intellectual ...more
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Milton Friedman was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. He made major contributions to the fields of economics and statistics. In 1976, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. He was an advocate of economic freed ...more
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“ان الشخص الوحيد الذي يمكنه اقناعك حقاً هو نفسك,عليك ان تدير الامور في رأسك اثناء استرخائك,ثم عليك ان تدرس الاراء الكثيرة المخالفة,دع الافكار تختمر في ذهنك,وبعد مدة طويلة حول تفضيلاتك إلى قناعات” 7 likes
“There is still a tendency to regard any existing government intervention as desirable, to attribute all evils to the market, and to evaluate new proposals for government control in their ideal form, as they might work if run by able, disinterested men free from the pressure of special interest groups.” 5 likes
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